Rainbow Rowell, you are so good at everything.
Fangirl is Rowell’s newest book, a YA novel about Cath. And because I’m a little lazy, here’s the description from Amazon:
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
Rowell does such an incredible job at sucking me into the worlds she creates – in Nebraska, no less. I read this book in two days, easily devouring up the words. I really liked Cath, for the most part – she’s introverted, shy, but a little sassy too. I liked Levi, too – he had that Southern good guy charm that reminded me just a little bit of Lincoln from Attachments. I liked that Cath’s problems and family issues were kind of normal, and resolved in normal ways. No magic fixes. I liked Cath’s love of taco trucks, and Kanye West, and the internet.
Even though I really liked Fangirl a lot, there were a couple things that I didn’t quite like. I didn’t really love the Simon Snow & Simon Snow fanfiction excerpts sprinkled between the regular chapters. Like, I get that Simon Snow is similar to HP in it’s fandom crazyness, but I didn’t need snippets from the books or from Cath’s fanfiction to appreciate it, especially since I’m not really into fanfiction. Those parts felt like filler. Also, Levi was a little too perfect. I adored him as a character and my goodness, girls should absolutely aim to have a Levi-like boyfriend. But he had pretty much zero flaws, which made him seem a little unreal. That being said, the best parts of the book were usually the parts with him, because he was funny and I liked his banter with Cath.
Lastly, this is the thing that disappointed me the most, but it’s spoiler-y, so highlight it to read: I feel like Cath’s problems suddenly started to go away once her & Levi started dating, and she didn’t actually evolve or grow as a character. She didn’t grow out of the Simon Snow world at all, she still seemed pretty introverted, and she didn’t grow away from Wren really. But really, my issue is that dating Levi seemed to be the thing that turned her life around, as if she needed a boy to help her solve her issues and deal better with her anxiety. The way it was written, I feel like if they broke up, she would be a crumpled mess all over again. And the book ended so abruptly – did her and Levi last? Did she go on to write anything else besides fan fiction? Did she eventually mature a bit?
So. Still a great story, and freaking wonderful as far as YA goes. But I think Eleanor & Park was a lot greater, even if it was a bit sadder. And Attachments is still my favorite, probably just because I prefer reading about adults to reading about teens. Teens are so emotional and dramatic and self-concious- Rowell portrays teenagehood fantastically, but I still prefer the confidence and grown-up-ness of adult characters. I’m really excited that Rowell’s next book, Landline, it going to be an adult book. I am SUPER psyched about that. I can’t wait.
And to end, let’s just recap some of my favorite quotes!
“He’s a perfectly good boyfriend,” Cath would say.
“He’s an end table,” Wren would answer.
“He’s always there for me.”
“…to set magazines on.”
“In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t google.) Like, where does the line start? What food can you take? Where are you supposed to stand, then were are you supposed to sit? Where do you go when you’re done, why is everyone watching you?… Bah.”
“I’m not really a book person.”
“That might be the most idiotic thing you’ve ever said to me.”
“Levi. I can carry my own gross, dirty laundry.”
“Cath. I’m not going to let you.”
“Are you okay?” he asked, grinning back because he couldn’t help it. (Bless him. Bless him to infinity and beyond.)
Oh man. Now I want to re-read all of her books. I don’t write down nearly enough good quotes.
Sarah Says: 4 stars